The Centre for East Lanka Social Services (CELSS) started its work in 1994 to promote peace and understanding in the Ampara district and to support the rehabilitation of children, women and young people affected by the war. It is jointly formed by Tamil and Muslim youth who have directly experienced the conflict and have realised the value of living in peace.
CELSS is jointly formed by Tamil and Muslim youth who have directly experienced the conflict and have realised the value of living in peace.CELSS’s main focus is to promote mutual understanding between the different communities living in the area. Misunderstandings and the lack of communication between the different ethnicities resulting from the protracted conflict are seen as what keeps the communities apart in today’s Sri Lanka and CELSS aims to address and rectify this situation through their work.
To achieve this end, CELSS works in a number of different ways. They organise sports events between Tamil and Muslim youth to bring these two ethnicities together. This facilitates the youth to get to know each other at a personal level. Further, CELSS brings these communities together through Shramadana (community activities where everyone gets together to complete a common task, such as repairing a road or digging a communal well), livelihood programmes for women, awareness programmes and workshops on peacebuilding. After the Tsunami, CELSS started providing development assistance to affected communities. In these too, CELSS worked through mixed ethnic beneficiary groups to further its vision of peace and mutual coexistence.